Researcher in Residence


IslandWood’s graduate program is offered in partnership with the University of Washington College of Education. Our 10-month program completes the first year of a UW Master’s in Education and fulfills the prerequisites for application to the Master’s in Teaching in Elementary Education. Historically, after grad students have completed their year at IslandWood, there are students that reach out to IslandWood as part of their master’s projects at the University of Washington. In fall 2022,  in conjunction with UW College of Education advisors Jessica Thompson and Mark Windschitl, we streamlined and formalized the process, creating our new Researcher in Residence program.


The Researcher in Residence (RiR) program is an opportunity for alumni and visiting scholars to conduct research at IslandWood. Through this program, researchers will have the opportunity to connect with the current graduate students to conduct their research. In a reciprocal partnership, current grads can take part in a workshop to learn a new skill or pedagogical strategy while being exposed to a variety of research methods.


It is important that research conducted at IslandWood is in alignment with the goals of the IslandWood Graduate program, has positive impacts on current grad students’ experiences, School Overnight Program student experiences, and meets the needs of the researchers. Visiting researchers and recent alumni (who are in their UW year) will work in collaboration with graduate program faculty and staff to make sure that research goals, projects, and data collection activities are supporting these goals. As faculty, we are invested in supporting our most recent alumni in designing and implementing projects that leverage their existing relationships with IslandWood to complete a graduate degree requirement- carrying out a research project.


The Researcher in Residence will hold two overview sessions with the current graduate class to provide grads with any information or training related to the research. For two consecutive weeks, the researcher (or research team) will work graduate students to do the same research twice in two different weeks, with two different sets of graduate students. All the projects are crafted individually by the researcher(s), some work in tandem with grads to implement their work with students from our School Overnight Program, while other studies focus on the grad students themselves. During those two weeks, data is collected using a variety of methods, including surveys, interviews, field notes, and workshops.

Examples of 2022-23 alumni Researcher in Residence projects

  • Improv & Education: How improvisation can maximize emergence, creativity, and presence among a community of educators.
  • Plant Connections: Students engage with one plant during a three-hour solo walk to see how their perspective is impacted after their walk.
  • (Re)connection (Re)search: Study the impact of collaborative art making on group cohesion and belonging.
  • Solo Walks as Experiential Trail Interpretation: Examine the impact of intentionally curated solo walk activities on participant emotions and sense of place.
  • Teaching Queer Ecology: Explore barriers and motivators to teaching queer ecology and how doing so affects educators themselves.


Once a researcher completes their two weeks at IslandWood, they assemble their data, build a narrative around their findings, and assimilate their research into a final thesis paper that is shared with current IslandWood graduate students, the IslandWood graduate program faculty, and IslandWood School Overnight Program team.


By returning to IslandWood, alumni have an opportunity to conduct their research in a supportive community they are already familiar with — and it’s reciprocal. The beauty of the RiR program is that it fosters a relationship between alumni and grads that helps the current grad students grow in their teaching practice while giving them a model of what their future research project could look like.

Contact Us

Have questions or want to learn more about the Researcher in Residence program? We look forward to hearing from you! Email us at [email protected].